Representational image. | Image Courtesy: Scroll.in
The student activists of Delhi University on Tuesday, June 2, received a message from Delhi Police threatening them with legal action if they went ahead with a protest to condemn the series of arrests of student activists made by Delhi Police in connection with their alleged role in Delhi riots. The message, which manifested the irony in brute terms, stands testimony to the fact that the activists are being hounded for their participation in Anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in various parts of the country last year, the activists alleged.
The message sent by the Station Head Officer, Maurice Nagar read, “Information was received through Social Media that Pinjra Tod, AISA, SFI, DSU, KYS, PACHHAS, DISHA, AIDSO are organising a protest at 12 PM dated 03/06/2020 at gate No 4 Arts Faculty University of Delhi. World Health Organisation has declared COVID-19 a global pandemic and subsequently Government of India has enforced Lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19. As per guidelines of Government of India, Government of National Capital territory of Delhi & National Disaster Management Authority, no social/political gathering is allowed. Thus, you are directed vide this massage not to hold any protest as in circulation in social media. Otherwise necessary legal action will be taken as per law.”
Talking to NewsClick, one of the organisers said, “We had explicitly made it clear that the protest would be conducted in strict compliance of social and physical distancing measures advised by the World Health Organisation. But we have also made it clear that we will not relent and will continue to protest against these illegal arrests violating all norms of human rights in midst of a pandemic. The officials of Delhi Police are aware that no legal help will be easily available and it could silence all dissenting voices who opposed the unconstitutional citizenship amendment act.”
Also read: Delhi Riots: Govt Flattening Protests, Not Coronavirus Curve, Say Student Leaders, Activists
The protest was later organised in another vicinity near the Delhi University where the activists of Students’ Federation of India and All India Students’ Association gathered and flashed placards with slogans “Free Political Prisoners” and “Stop Arresting Students”. One of the protesters said, “The activists which were arrested by Delhi Police on false charges were actually helping the riot victims in rehabilitation. Natasha and Devangana were arrested but court granted them bail. So, it arrested them again on more heinous charges. The police arrested another pregnant activist Safoora Zargar and the IT Cell of the ruling party outraged her modesty by questioning her character on social media. Which law suggests that you can incarcerate a pregnant woman merely for a protest?”
Addressing a scattered gathering, Sumit Kataria, president of the SFI Delhi Committee stated, "Not only the current times show acute irresponsibility of the Modi government in their inability to contain the situations in the pandemic and the displacement of lakhs of migrant workers but during a humanitarian crisis arresting pregnant women and making multiple arrests even after the court orders is beneath even the current government."
Apart from Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, the Delhi Police arrested activist Safoora Zargar; Rashtriya Janata Dal student leader Meeran Haider; Asif Iqbal Tanha; Shifa Ur Rahman, president of Alumni Association of Jamia Millia Islamia University; Umar Khalid, former student of JNU; and Danish, a local resident from Bhajanpura.
The investigation and the subsequent arrests by the Delhi Police failed to convince Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana, who while hearing the judicial remand petition of Asif Iqbal Tanha, remarked, “The investigation seems to be targeted only towards one end. Upon enquiry from Inspector... they have failed to point out what investigation has been carried out so far regarding the involvement of the rival faction.”